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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hawaii 15th State to Allow Same-Sex Marriage

Twenty years ago, a state court ruling from Hawaii sparked the same-sex marriage movement that has now become the civil rights struggle of our time.  Today, a Hawaiian state court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in the 50th state to join the Union.

Hawaii now joins 14 other states to legalize same-sex marriage.  Just last month, it was the New Jersey Supreme Court adding their state, at least temporarily, to the growing list of states recognizing gay nuptials.  Illinois will become the 16th state later this month at a ceremony where the now-passed legislation will be formally signed by the Governor.

In the case of Hawaii, their Supreme Court ruled back in 1993 that a guarantee of legal equality could eventually lead to legalized gay marriage.  Largely due to the manner in which that High Court's ruling came down, it never developed any legal traction and was effectively overruled in 1998 by that state's voter initiative amending their state constitution to restrict legal marriage to opposite-gender couples.

Many of our readers will recognize this Pacific constitutional amendment as the precursor to the federal Defense of Marriage Act [DOMA]  -marriage is legal as only between a man and a woman-  recently struck down by the SCOTUS.  Legal scholars have suggested that DOMA was a federal legislative reaction to the surprising initial same-sex decision by the Hawaiian Supreme Court; the first such ruling in the coutry.

Like racial equality and gender equity, this ground is not easily gained.  There is nothing like a civil rights struggle to demonstrate the evolution of our federalist system of government.

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